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Aussies go the other way, pick specialists

The International Cricket Council will one day win an award of some kind for rating and ranking systems it has devised. The danger is, it might be a comedy award.

cricket Updated: May 11, 2010 02:34 IST
Anand Vasu

The International Cricket Council will one day win an award of some kind for rating and ranking systems it has devised. The danger is, it might be a comedy award.

When Australia arrived in the West Indies for the World T20 they were unseeded and ranked a lowly ninth in the world.

Ever since the first ball was bowled, they have been the team to beat. Michael Clarke, their skipper, made an extraordinary observation in the middle of the tournament.

“I have always believed that it is bowlers who win you matches in this form of the game,” said Clarke.

In its limited existence, T20 cricket has been thought of as the ultimate batsman's game. Teams like India have used that approach, playing just three frontline bowlers in some cases; packing the eleven instead with batsmen, who can bowl a bit.

Australia have chosen to swing it the other way, always having at least four specialist bowlers in hand.

The pace battery of Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson, backed up by Ryan Harris, has been a permanent fixture.

The other crucial decision Australia took was to pick rookie leg spinner, Steven Smith, who is an attacking bowler, ahead of the more experienced and conservative offie, Nathan Hauritz. While Hauritz would be the safer bet, Smith was more likely to pick up wickets.

Add to this the presence of a genuine all-rounder in Shane Watson, a wicketkeeper who can comfortably bat at No. 3 or 4 in Brad Haddin, and you get an Australian eleven that has the skills and services that 14 or 15 players from other teams would provide.

Clarke, widely tipped to be the next batting great from Australia, has barely been required to hit a ball in the tournament thus far.

That he might still go on to hold the trophy aloft is an illustration of the Australian way- where the team is all-important, and the individual only significant for his part in its march to victory.